Sky Time

Throughout my travels near and far, I have experienced nature in the forests, mountains, valleys, rivers, oceans, and even underground in caves.

It was high-time that I took to the skies.*

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Me. Happy.

When my pilot friend (who also happens to be a flight instructor) said, “Let’s go flying”, I was 100% onboard – literally.

It was a crisp, clear day with views for miles. I observed the lacy patterns on the semi-frozen Potomac River that lay surrounded by snow-dusted grounds. The deciduous trees stood as tiny skeletons while pockets of deep green marked the clusters of their evergreen friends. The Chesapeake Bay was a sight to behold with its glossy surface reflecting the sun, making the light dance as we flew lazy eights above.

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The view from above, including the Potomac

I was experiencing my world from a completely new perspective, and thoroughly enjoying it. Things looked prettier from up high, away from the concrete and busyness on the ground. My birds-eye-perspective rendered everything as smaller, simpler, yet somehow even more beautiful.

And yes, getting a chance to take-off and actually fly a bit myself added to my sense of awe.

I was surrounded by air, far from the world as I know it, yet still experiencing the natural world in a phenomenal way.

I cherished every minute of it.

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Our plane

 

* The commercial flights I’ve taken wherein I share elbow space with other humans and have just a peek of blue sky out a too-small window don’t truly count as a “nature experience”

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When the Sun Goes Down

 

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Goodbye sun, goodbye light

 

Sunsets on the Pacific are pretty stellar. The entire sky emits a gorgeous scheme of colors that reflect off of the ocean. Taking a horseback ride on the beach with dusk approaching rendered this Mexican moment even more glamorous. The sun hovered around the horizon casting long rays of light out onto the sandy shore.

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As night settled in, I was able to explore some hot springs along the beach. Steaming water bubbles up in a “secret” location. Anyone with a shovel and a lil’ bit of grit can essentially dig their own hot tub. Some places within the pit were too hot for even my feet to handle.

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Impromptu beach hot tub (excuse the poor, grainy quality)

Mexico, you’re a quirky country, with lots of fun things to explore… especially when the sun goes down.

Bonfire on the beach, anyone?

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My new amigo

Sea Lions and Sea Slugs

The waves picked up, barreling over my kayak as I struggled to paddle perpendicular to the shore. The salt spray blinded me momentarily until I was through the shore break and out into the relatively calm waters.

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It was a beautiful Thanksgiving day south of the border. An almost record high of 85° convinced me to brave the chilly Pacific waters. The bright sun was intense – a welcome relief from my recent dunk in the ocean. I bobbed on the sea for a spell, thinking about everything and nothing. My last experience in the Pacific involved a surfing lesson after my time spent in the Channel Islands.

It was then that I spotted a brown face and sleek body emerging from the ocean’s surface. A sea lion decided to swim on by, checking out this oddly colored piece of plastic floating in his waters. I watched, I listened, I enjoyed life.

Fast forward 4 hours.

Bike riding along the beach was a fun pass time, but I was on a mission: hunting for sea slugs. These fascinating creatures are squishy mollusks that release reddish ink when disturbed. After a zippy three-mile bike ride, I found one!

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His name is Holden. He wasn’t cooperating for the camera, but he did slug around my hand for a bit.

My Mexico Thanksgiving was full of unique experiences and living “treasures”. I took a moment to appreciate my special outdoor experiences and how blessed I am to continue trekking around the world seeking out natural spaces.

I was also grateful that the sea slug ink came off… eventually.

 

 

Una Mañana Mexicana

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Bird watching in the early a.m.

The gentle murmur of waves greeted me as I shook off my morning slumber. Half asleep, I listened to the ocean purr and gurgle, rhythmic in its lullaby. Pulling on my hoodie, I tiptoed out to the shore for a morning stroll.

Pelicans dove violently for their breakfast while gulls skittered nearby picking for crabs buried stealthily in the sand. And oh, the sand! So fine it felt like flour, with tiny flecks of gold in it that caught the light of the rising sun. My feet took pleasure in its sloppy wet feel, and I gazed out over the Pacific Ocean.

This was Mexico.

I was expecting a touristy vibe similar to that of Cancun, especially knowing that the Baja Coast is a well-developed region. We pulled down a dirt road to get to the beach casa and narrowly missed hitting livestock on the way in.  When “security” had to pull a rope tied to a rock to lift the gate arm, I knew I was in for a genuine Mexican adventure.

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The view from the house

But back to the beach.

It was just me and the ocean at 6:30 am. Cold salt water (pleasant) and the smell of something burning somewhere (not so pleasant). I walked back to the house to get a cup of coffee, and saw the dolphins: seven of them cruising along the surf, leaping joyfully in the air. I waved back and smiled.

I was quite content to watch these fascinating creatures for another 20 minutes, while they took their time whisking through the sea. A feeling of complete and utter kinship accompanied me.

It was only 7 am, and it was going to be a darn good day.

 

Beach Respite

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Corolla sunrise

Beaches are beautiful. I’ve spent a lot of time on the coast this past year. From snorkeling with the fishes in Dry Tortugas to exploring tide pools in Olympic, the ocean is a magical place.

That’s why my trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina came at an opportune time. Nothing beats the post-trip blahs like a gorgeous landscape and sunshine. As I floated on my back, cocooned by the salty Atlantic water, I closed my eyes and relaxed like a little star fish. There’s something incredible about letting all your senses be lost in a natural space. Three pelicans jolted me out of my revelry, swooping down nearby to pick up an early lunch from the sea.

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A couple days later and a couple shades more tan, I was pretty darn happy. The freckles littering my arms were a pleasant reminder of my time on the beach. If I close my eyes, I can still recall the scent of the delicious salty air…

* sigh *

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